Samsung NX10 Performance, Timings and Image Quality

by Jim Keenan Reads (312)
Editor's Rating
8.00

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 7
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Expandability
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 8.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

PERFORMANCE
With a DSLR-sized sensor, image quality and high ISO noise performance should be two of the NX10’s strong points, but how a camera goes about capturing images can be as important as the images themselves.

Samsung NX10

Shooting Performance
The NX10 has a self-cleaning sensor and the automatic cleaning function, which is activated whenever the camera powers up, is off as a default setting. Startup with auto cleaning disabled is quick, and I was able to power up and get off a shot in about 2 seconds. With sensor cleaning enabled on startup, you don’t even get a focus icon displayed until about the 3 second mark.

Single shot-to-shot times ran about 2 seconds and the continuous rate came in a little over the 3 frames per second (fps) advertised rate. Single AF mode is required to get that rate, however, AF is established for the first shot and applied to all subsequent shots in the burst. Switching to continuous AF slows the rate noticeably as the camera recalculates focus between shots.

Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)

Camera Time (seconds)
Canon Rebel T2i 0.02
Olympus E-PL1 0.03
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 0.05
Samsung NX10 0.05

AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)

Camera Time (seconds)
Canon Rebel T2i 0.18
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 0.32
Samsung NX10 0.50
Olympus E-PL1 0.84

Continuous Shooting

Camera Frames Framerate*
Canon Rebel T2i 170 3.7 fps
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 17 3.3 fps
Samsung NX10 12 3.3 fps
Olympus E-PL1 14 3.1 fps

*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.

Shutter lag and AF acquisition times in good conditions felt a bit slower than an entry-level DSLR and the studio timings bore this out. AF acquisition time ran to 0.50 seconds with shutter lag coming in at 0.05 seconds. A little pokey compared to the better entry level DSLRs, but more importantly, generally in the ballpark with the Micro Four Thirds cameras that are the direct competition. The Panasonic has quicker AF and better shutter lag; the Olympus twins have better shutter lag and slower AF. AF acquisition in dim conditions, even with a focus assist lamp, was noticeably slower than in good light.

The NX10’s built-in flash has a guide number of 11 at the base 100 ISO sensitivity of the camera, so range will be fairly minimal if you’re shooting in the f/4 – f/5.6 or greater aperture range. The camera has a hot shoe to accept an external flash. Here’s some flash shots of some cats at play. The original photo below of Delta in flight turned out a little dark but post-processed nicely, and the others were right at the edge of the flash envelope (for 100 ISO).

Samsung NX10 Test Image
Original with flash
Samsung NX10 Test Image
Post-processed
Samsung NX10 Test Image Samsung NX10 Test Image
Samsung NX10 Test Image

Flash recycle times were good and ran between 2.5 and about 4.5 seconds depending on the amount of discharge. Battery life for the NX10 is given as 200 minutes or about 400 shots using a CIPA standard, which is generally fairly accurate.

Lens Performance
Since the NX10 is a new product and its Samsung lenses an unknown quantity (at least to me), let’s take a look at how each of the three lenses we had for the review fared. The 30mm exhibited just the slightest hint of barrel distortion and was quite uniformly sharp across the frame, including edges and corners. There was some chromic aberration (purple fringing) in some high contrast boundary areas, but magnifications of about 300% or greater were needed to make the fault noticeable. The 30mm maximum aperture is f/2, making it the fastest lens of the trio.

Samsung NX10 Test Image
30mm

The 18-55 was a bit soft in the corners at wide angle, with very slight light falloff and more pronounced barrel distortion. At the 55mm telephoto end, barrel distortion gave way to pincushion, with a quite uniformly sharp frame, including edges and corners. Chromic aberration was largely absent at 18mm, and, while present at 55mm was pretty well controlled. Magnifications in the 300 – 400% range were required to make the fault noticeable. Maximum apertures range from f/3.5 to f/5.6, typical for “kit” lenses in this focal range.

Samsung NX10 Test Image
18mm
Samsung NX10 Test Image
55mm

Finally, the 50-200 had some softness in the corners at the 50mm end, accompanied by slight barrel distortion. There was a bit of chromic aberration, but again, it was only problematic at 300% + enlargements. At the 200mm end, the lens had developed a very slight pincushion distortion and some softness in the edges and corners. Close scrutiny revealed chromic aberration at 200% enlargements, but at 100% and less, it would be hard to see the effect. Maximum apertures range from f/4 to f/5.6, a bit slow on the telephoto end.

Samsung NX10 Test Image
50mm
Samsung NX10 Test Image
200mm

All in all, the lenses we had for this review did a very good job in the image quality arena and give any potential NX10 owners a versatile complement even without the addition of the other five lenses announced for release this year. Then there’s that “K” mount adapter that will probably show up at some point, and open the Pentax lens floodgates for NX10 use. A German company (Novoflex) has already announced NX10 adapters for Nikon, Pentax and Minolta lenses will be available in June. The fly in the ointment at this point is that it’s unknown how many lens/camera functions will be compatible using an adapter-mounted lens. But even if not one adapter ever hits the market, Samsung has a decent range of lenses announced for its new camera.

Video Quality
Video quality out of the NX10 at the 720p HD setting is very good. Because the camera has a CMOS sensor, the possibility of rolling shutter effect when panning during video is a concern. Rolling shutter effect is present during unreasonably fast pans, but at normal speeds, the effect is fairly benign. Recording time is limited to 25 minutes per clip.

The camera microphone is susceptible to wind noise, but a wind cut setting is provided to minimize wind impact on the audio. Manually zooming or focusing during video capture will be audible. Unlike many cameras, there is no quick “one button” approach to video; you must set the mode dial to video and then initiate capture via the shutter button.

Image Quality
I was very happy with the default images out of the NX10 with regard to accurate color and sharpness.

Samsung NX10 Test Image Samsung NX10 Test Image
Samsung NX10 Test Image Samsung NX10 Test Image

I was not so happy to note that the NX10 outputs still image files at 72 pixels per inch; you get images that are about 63.8 inches by 42.44 inches in size at full resolution and 100% enlargement. Plan to resize for either Internet transmission or print work. There is a resize tool in the camera’s “image edit” menu that allows in-camera adjustment to 10, 6 or 2 megapixel sizes, but even the 2 megapixel file comes in at nearly 27 x 18 inches.

When using the manual exposure shooting modes, the NX10 offers a “Picture Wizard” palette with a range of choices including “cool” and “calm” (but no “collected”). Here’s what the PW choices look like:

Samsung NX10 Test Image
Standard
Samsung NX10 Test Image
Vivid
Samsung NX10 Test Image
Portrait
Samsung NX10 Test Image
Landscape
Samsung NX10 Test Image
Forest
Samsung NX10 Test Image
Retro
Samsung NX10 Test Image
Cool
Samsung NX10 Test Image
Calm
Samsung NX10 Test Image
Classic

Colors in the PW palette have a range of sharpness, contrast and saturation adjustments available to fine tune image quality.

Like many digital cameras today, the NX10 has a setting to expand its apparent dynamic range – “smart range” – that is off by default. Here’s my standard high contrast shot with SR disabled and then enabled. At first glance, the images look the same, but histograms show blown highlights on the disabled shot, but not with SR enabled. The difference is subtle but most apparent at the right side of both images.

Samsung NX10 Test Image
SR Off
Samsung NX10 Test Image
SR On

The 14.6 megapixel resolution of the NX10 sensor lends itself to cropping to either recompose the image or for nothing more than to get “closer.” The cropped version is 8 x 12 inches at 203 dots per inch which will produce a good quality print.

Samsung NX10 Test Image
Original
Samsung NX10 Test Image
Cropped

I used auto white balance for all the shots in this review, and it worked well over most light ranges, but shot warm in the studio under incandescent light. There are seven preset values in addition to auto WB as well as a custom setting and a color temperature setting range from 2500 to 10,000 degrees Kelvin. Multi metering proved accurate for most conditions, but could lose some highlights on occasion. There are center-weighted and spot metering options available.

Samsung NX10 Test Image
Auto White Balance, 3200k incandescent light

ISO performance was average; it doesn’t seem the NX10 has broken any new ground in this regard. Both 100 and 200 are clean and basically indistinguishable from one another. ISO 400 is very good but there’s just the slightest hint of some noise creeping in. ISO 800 shows yet another increase and 1600 is noticeably worse than 800 (but still not too bad for small images). Quality at 3200 drops off a bit more but is still usable for small print work.

Samsung NX10
ISO 100
Samsung NX10 Test Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Samsung NX10
ISO 200
Samsung NX10 Test Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Samsung NX10
ISO 400
Samsung NX10 Test Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Samsung NX10
ISO 800
Samsung NX10 Test Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Samsung NX10
ISO 1600
Samsung NX10 Test Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop
Samsung NX10 Test Image
ISO 3200
Samsung NX10 Test Image
ISO 3200, 100% crop

The NX10 seems to be about even with the Micro Four Thirds cameras from Olympus and Panasonic in the lower ISO noise department and possibly a tiny bit behind from 800 and up. I don’t think ISO performance of the NX10 in comparison to the Olympus or Panasonic offerings is a deal-maker or breaker one way or the other.

Additional Sample Images

Samsung NX10 Test Image Samsung NX10 Test Image
Samsung NX10 Test Image Samsung NX10 Test Image
Samsung NX10 Test Image Samsung NX10 Test Image
Samsung NX10 Test Image Samsung NX10 Test Image


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